40 Blocks and 6 Years in a Mexican Pueblo
If there's one truth about the world perceptible to us on a daily basis, it's that the living planet, and our human experience of it, is full of differences and perpetual change. For inexplicable reasons, many languages developed over history instead of just one; peoples evolved genetically and socially, coalescing into self-identifying groups with named villages, city-states, nations. And sprung from this mysterious primordial ether of homo sapiens sapiens, new customs and ritualized traditions long-developed into the thousands of idiosyncratic cultures across the modern world. This evolved paradox of human separateness is what constitutes the humanness that ties the many together into one: our differences create our sameness and unite us.
I produced this series of 40 photos over the last six years in an area of about 40 blocks in Ajijic, Mexico, a mountain pueblo united by its long-standing and ever-evolving set of traditions, customs, fiestas, parades and celebrations of all kinds.
As an American who's lived in this village for the past six years, I still find myself bewildered by the varied and always unpredictable ways that a single people –- a single pueblo -– can collectively express itself through something as intangible and unifying as shared tradition and culture. Mexico itself is a country with dozens of ethnic groups. Its unique traditions probably number into the several thousand. Though each custom celebrated here is still uniquely Mexican, each of our cultural quirks show that together we toil in the same moments which forge the human condition: laughter, love, tears, aspiration and dignity. This living connection with the past which many cultures are still clinging to is one of the truths which leads people to a better understanding of themselves, their neighbors and how they fit into the world around them.